Posts Tagged ‘book’

Holiday Haunts 1964

June 21, 2016

This book gives an indication of the decline in railways as a means of getting on holiday. Until 1962 such books were issued by the railway but after that publication was down to other commercial concerns. The introduction says it all.


HERE is the second Dickens Press edition of HOLIDAY HAUNTS.
The first, in 1963, was successor to the long line of British Railways issues which ceased in 1962. It was felt that here was a reference book essential to holidaymakers in Britain. The success and support which greeted our first publication of HOLIDAY HAUNTS has confirmed that opinion.

But let’s take a look at the book.


For half a crown (12½p) you could buy a guide to the whole of the UK running to more than 500 pages. It gave some general overviews of areas and then had a gazetteer listing and describing pretty well all holiday places. My local town, Devizes, gets a mention.

DEVIZES. Wiltshire. – 86 miles London (43/- Ordinary 2nd Class Return), 203 miles
Manchester (100/-),418 miles Glasgow (/74/-).
Pop.: 8,497. E.C. Wed. Mkt. Thurs.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury are not many miles from this historic town in the heart of Wiltshire; and in the museum of Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Historic Society are notable exhibits of times long past.
Golf (9), tennis, bowls, open-air swimming pool. Coarse fishing. Caravan park. Cinema. Carnival (September).
Annual fairs (April and October).

We get distances and train fares from some major places – early closing and market days – an attraction is mentioned and various annual events and activities are listed.

But of course, much of this bit of memorabilia is adverts and for no obvious reason I have picked out Clacton.image004

I suppose things haven’t changed that much but destinations probably have.

The Maestro

May 19, 2016

Gerard Hoffnung’s book of cartoons, The Maestro, was published in 1953. I first saw it as a child. It was in the waiting room at the dentist I had to go to. Back in those days dentist visiting was a scary business. The low speed drills dug into your nerves – never deadened by injections – it hurt like the blazes. I suppose some light relief in the waiting room was a really good idea. And so I was introduced to The Maestro.


This, of course, is my copy – a 1963 tenth impression.

It seems odd now that I had enough nous of music to even understand it, let alone find it uproariously funny. But I do recall my brother and I laughing out loud as we looked at the Hoffnung cartoons showing a conductor interpreting those strange instructions that music uses.

Here we have Molto Diminuendo.


Of course the cartoon makes it clear. The phrase obviously means get a lot quieter – and quickly.

image006As I remember it this was one that really induced laughter. Hoffnung really captures the spirit of the over the top conductor with his ‘furioso’. I think at the time I’d have translated this as furiously but really it means with great vigour.

The Hoffnung cartoons still bring a smile to me.

Speeding North with the Royal Scot

February 22, 2016

Only once in my life have I taken a train that was the equivalent of the Royal Scot. Back in 1970 my future wife and I went youth hostelling in Scotland and the first leg of this was the train from Euston to Glasgow. In those days we had electric power up to Crewe and then a diesel loco took over for the rest of the journey.

Earlier, in the days of steam power, the Royal Scot ran non-stop for the 299 miles from Euston to Carlisle. At that point the driver and fireman were replaced by fresh enginemen for the rest of the journey to Glasgow.

One of my favourite railway books has the title I have given this blog. It was written by a driver and describes the route and the work involved for him and his fireman mate. It is an easy read and a way of discovering just what footplate life was like, at any rate on a reasonably modern express passenger loco.

And here is that book.


We can see straight away that this is no new book. In fact it was published in 1939.


The book is nicely illustrated with photographs and some diagrams. This is the frontispiece which allows us to meet our author/driver.


Driver Earle (for that is his name) is not as tall as the wheels of his loco which, for this trip, was number 6206 – Princess Marie Louise. His fireman was Tom.

Here’s another page of photos.


The detail of the journey is mixed in with little stories that Driver Earle remembers. And he doesn’t fail to describe the scenery, whether it be industrial or the Westmorland fells.


We even learn about life in the overnight hostel and how our driver spends his spare time.

All in all, a good read. I’ve just looked up prices on internet book sellers. It doesn’t seem to come cheap! Mine cost me 6d at a jumble sale – circa 1963

Henfield’s Wonderful Railway

January 9, 2016

As we get through January, I thought I might look at one or two Christmas presents – but this isn’t one of them. This is a sort of buckshee extra. I performed what I might call a trifling kindness for Henfield Museum and the author of a book about the railway through this Sussex village felt I was worthy of a copy of his 2015 published book.

I have to confess, I am absolutely delighted for it is a very good read and as much social as railway history.

image002The railway line concerned ran from Horsham in North Sussex down to the coast at Shoreham from where trains continued to Brighton. You could say this route suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for it might have been constructed as the main line from London to Brighton – it was proposed – but a shorter and more direct route with much heavier engineering needed was chosen instead. Some twenty years later it opened as a country railway. It missed out on electrification in the 1930s but soldiered on as a steam hauled route until the 1960s. Not long before closure, diesel trains were used. Now some of the track is used as a walk and cycleway.

The author has lived in Henfield since childhood and has wonderful memories and has researched well. One of my favourite photos in the book is of an advert remembered on Henfield Station.


Now how charming is that. The text and photos describe the trains and the sources of revenue the railway had. Mr Colgate paints a vivid picture of life in past times both on the railway and in its environs.

Here we see workmen tipping sand from the Henfield quarry into a goods train waiting in the siding.


This photo is the property of Henfield Museum. It reminds us just how manual work was in the past and how railways were used for just about everything.

My other selected photo is by Lens of Sutton and shows shunting in progress at Shoreham. But just look at the motive power.


Yes, genuine horse power was in use. In fact the last British Railways shunting horse was not retired until 1967 but despite being at the top end of my teens by then, I never saw one in use.

It’s a lovely book and I can’t thank E Colgate enough for giving me a copy. You see, I haven’t yet mentioned that the line through Henfield was used by me quite regularly. Sometimes my use was mere train ride pleasure but I did also use it as a means of getting places. The line was known to me and so I really find the history fascinating

A known unknown

December 30, 2015

Back in 2002 it was Donald Rumsfeld, the USA Secretary of State who attempted to confuse the world with his speech about known unknowns.

In my case I am using that term to mean things I didn’t know for a long time, but do now. I’m using it in a family history context and it centres around this book.

The book is Holiday House by Catherine Sinclair. I guess it is late Victorian but it has no publication date. It centres around two orphaned children raised by their grandmother and a kindly uncle not to mention the nurse who does most of the frequent chastising for misbehaviour. I haven’t read to the end of it yet. It is quite heavy going.


It is said to be a book for the young. All I can say is that youngsters in those past times must have had much more perseverance than those of today. There are 320 pages of uninterrupted text to get through.

The author advertises some of her other works on that title page.


I’m afraid these other books will have to remain unknown knowns – that they existed I know but what they are about I have no idea.

We seekers after information find all we can and there is a tiny stamp giving the name of the bookshop.


Now a chap called Thomas Pullinger was, amongst other things, a book seller living on Union Street in Brighton in 1891 and 1901. By 1911 he seems to have given up the book selling and concentrated on picture framing. He’d left Union Street as well. That does help me with my guess of a late Victorian book.

But best of all, this book was awarded to my grandmother.


Now I never knew that granny – Ethel Stevens – attended the Congregational Sunday School in Isfield. That has become my known formerly unknown. But I can be annoyed with that Sunday School for not dating the award or giving a reason for the award.

Granny was born in 1892 which certainly points to that late Victorian era for the book. But it would actually be entirely wrong for the book was written in the 1830s.

But well done Granny, whenever you won it and whatever it was for.

A railway book

December 23, 2015

I bought this little volume from a charity stall at a little market in Sedburgh in Cumberland. It really took me back to my train spotting days.


Well no wonder it took me back, for the book was published in 1960. This was a time when it was not considered bad to like trains and authors and photographers could cash in on a very widespread hobby with a fairly basic idea. H C Casserley was a well-known locomotive photographer and this book is largerly a vehicle for his photos together with some self-written text and technical details of the locos chosen. The book was sold, when new, for 8/6 which is 42½p in present money.

Some 200 different types of loco are described – each with a photo.

I’m picking on just one of them.


If anyone looks at this and says, ‘Aha! This is one of those Terriers the blog author likes so much’, then I say, ‘well done, but not right’. This is Stroudley’s D class tank and very clearly comes from the same stable as my much loved Terriers.  These locos didn’t survive into my train spotting days for on the next page of the book it tells us that no 2252 was withdrawn in September 1950 at which time I was less than two years old. If ever I saw one of these locos then I certainly have no memory of it. Actually, another loco of the class survived in service on an asylum railway in Lancashire until 1957. But in those days Lancashire was as foreign to me as Vladivostok.

There are nice memories for me in this book although inevitably, Mr Casserley’s choice of locos doesn’t match mine.

According to Jennings

December 19, 2015

People of my age in the UK may well remember Jennings stories on the wireless. I suppose it was during the 1950s that my brother and I were delighted when a new set of Jennings adventures came on ‘Children’s’ Hour’ on the BBC Home Service.

The stories were based on books by Anthony Buckeridge and concerned the escapades of young Jennings and his slightly more hapless friend Darbishire as they coped with life at a minor private school called Linbury Court Preparatory School.

It was odd we loved these stories as much as we did, for as mere state school pupils it was way outside our experience. Let’s face it, Jennings and co were boarders, living away from home and looked after by headmaster Mr Pemberton Oakes (a minor character in the tales) and the rather explosive Mr Wilkins, the kindly Mr Carter and the inevitable matron.

Jennings was a perfectly decent young lad with not an ounce of malice in him. But he always had wizard schemes which were doomed to throw up some unforeseen snag and land him, Darbishire and maybe other lads in trouble. For me, as a kid, Anthony Buckeridge had created believable characters who managed to have a good time. I loved those stories.

My reminder, these days, is one Jennings book that I acquired at a jumble sale. ‘According to Jennings’ was first published in 1954.


The book has a few line drawing illustrations and here’s Jennings with his head stuck in a glass dome. Don’t ask!


My favourite tale from the wireless happens to be in this book. This is the one in which Jennings has heard Mr Wilkins talking about leaving on Friday. Jennings persuades all his friends to club together and they buy an alarm clock as a leaving present for ‘Old Wilkie’ and somehow they rake up enough for an alarm clock. This proceeds to go off in a lesson in which Mr Wilkins is reciting a Tennyson poem – Ring out Wild Bells.

I recall brother and I laughing ourselves stupid when we heard it on the radio.

Mr Wilkins confiscated the clock – and he wasn’t leaving anyway – just having a weekend away! Good old Mr Carter sorted things out. But not before quite a few of the Wilkins catchphrase of ‘I—I—Corwumph!

There are happy childhood memories for me in this dusty old book!

All Quiet on the Western Front

December 4, 2015

I have just finished reading this book which, in its way, is a bit of a family heirloom. Let’s deal with that first.

image002We can see by appearance that this is quite an old book and inside it carries the name of my Grandmother.


But now let me tell you a bit about the book. It is about the First World War but it was originally written in German for it is about a group of German soldiers doing what was perceived as their bit for their country. It is, of course, a work of fiction. The vast majority of the tale is narrated by soldier Paul Bäumer. It tells what happened to his friends and former classmates. It is really quite harrowing accounts of death, disease etc. It also highlights how Paul can no longer cope at home when he gets some leave. He feels isolated from that old world. The lads discuss how the people fighting on the other side must feel just as they do – that God is on their side.

The book was written by Erich Maria Remarque and first published in Germany in January 1929. It was translated into English by A W Wheen and appeared in April of the same year. It clearly sold well.


The book gets its title from the very last page – the only one not narrated by Paul. Don’t read it if you don’t want the ending spoiled.



August 1, 2015

Today I am looking at another large and rather dusty tome. Here it is.

image002This book is a table of distances.


The book is a 1924 edition and shows the distance from every station on the Southern Railway to every place where the Southern butted up to a different company. We can see it was a Railway Clearing House publication. The Railway Clearing House had the job of allocating the amount of cash to be paid to different companies for journeys involving more than one company.


I have picked on the station called Ash to be an example and even then have shown just one of the four pages needed to deal with Ash and other stations near it in the alphabet. I have chosen Ash for two reasons. Reason one is that it happens to be at the top of a page so you can see the names of junctions and how far they were from Ash.


The second reason is a bit of family history. My Great Great Uncle, George Ware became an engine driver based at Ash. He followed in the footsteps of his father, killed whilst driving a goods train at Sevenoaks. I never knew George but my grandfather recalled going to Guildford once and there was a man with such a family resemblance that he knew it had to be George, who he had never actually met. And it was.

Anyway we can see, for example, that Ash Station was 31 and a bit miles from Reading – junction with the Great Western Railway and a bit over 84 miles to Templecombe for the junction with the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Now I have to confess I had forgotten where this book came from but it has an inscription in it.


I’m Roger. Robin was my brother, Ann his wife and Cameron their son. Seeing the inscription brought it back.

My brother worked in the building trade and was involved in a project somewhere near the Elephant and Castle in South London. This book was in a building scheduled for demolition and brother Robin rescued it and gave it to me.

So this book is more than just a nerdy tome, it has real family connections. My brother died in 1980 and it was lovely, when I found it, to see this little bit of his handwriting.


Sunlight Year Book

May 8, 2015

If you are like me, any time you come across the words Sunlight Soap you’ll begin to hum or sing alternative words to a well-known Christmas Carol – While shepherds watched.

While shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round the tub.
A bar of sunlight soap came down
And they began to scrub.

But never mind that. Let’s look at my Sunlight Year Book for 1898.


Yes, it has suffered some damage. I wonder if somebody found it a handy place to put down a hot saucepan.

Inside you’ll find everything you might want to know. This includes a full list of all the members of parliament and all sorts of other things. I’ve picked on some of the line drawings to give a feel.

For those folks of 1898 keen on keeping cattle there was advice and numerous drawings of different breeds.


Keeping on an agricultural theme you could discover what crops were grown in Britain.


You could learn about the latest fashions.


Or how to read a gas meter.


Your maids could discover how to do the washing.


How splendid! There is even some information about railways.


Just for the record, regular trains from Newport to Paddington take about 1 hour 57 minutes these days. That’s an average 0f 73.5 miles per hour. Kings Cross to Newark is more impressive at 1 hour and 13 minutes these days or about 98 MPH!

Now I think that book is lovely. I hope you do too.